Lessons From Cancer
Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada, and it’s World Cancer Day.
Many of you are writing, asking for an update on my battle against stage 3 cancer. Although it was around 10 years ago I was first diagnosed with cancer, that ugly disease, it did return a few years ago. And it meant more surgery and an aggressive regimen of radiation and, yes, I am still taking chemotherapy drugs once a month to eradicate any and all nasty little renegade cancer cells that may try to stir up mischief in my body. The monthly shots that I take are painful, and the side effects are not pleasant. The drug exacerbates my pain levels but, hey, I’m not complaining. My last blood test and PET scan looked pretty good, so I’m not about to, you know, complain to my oncologist, “Get me off this drug.” No, I’m trusting that God is keeping me alive for his kingdom work. And if you’re battling cancer, God’s doing the same for you. If you’re living with cancer, friend, you’ve got a mission field. You got doctors and nurses; you got technicians, receptionists; you’re getting to know the people who draw blood, who give you IVs, the ones sitting in the waiting room with you. Yeah, you’re on a war against cancer, but you know what?, God has expanded your field of witness in this war to win hearts for the kingdom of Christ.
That is the only way to look at your suffering, your cancer. Suffering’s no failure of God’s plan. True, it is part of the curse, along with death and disease and destruction, but before God comes back to close the curtain on suffering, it is meant to be redeemed. Our miracle-working God can reach down into what otherwise looks like awful evil – terrible evil – and he and he alone can pull out of it positive good for us and for others, as you connect with them in your cancer battle. Not to mention glory for himself. Besides that, suffering – something as awful as cancer – suffering crushes our illusions that this earth can keep its promises; it can’t really satisfy us. Cancer is a way of reminding us that the bottom line for any Christian is heaven. So let’s work toward it; let’s bring as many people to it as we possibly can on this side of earth.
And so on this World Cancer Day, do I pray that my cancer will stay away? You bet I do. And what if it doesn’t stay away? Well, I’ll say, “Whatever you want, Lord. And if it would give you more glory and advance your Gospel more quickly, I’m all for it!” Always, always I want to be in submission to the Father and obedient to Jesus – knowing full well that if I have everything else in life and lacked that – obedience and trust – man, I’d have nothing at all. Because isn’t that the end game, that Jesus gets the glory? I mean, whether I am one day declared cancer free, or whether I have to battle it a third time, knowing I’ve got lessons to learn, or a character to be honed, or other wounded people to identify with – my point is, I want my Savior to be glorified, and I want to have a greater intimacy with him. Every bit of my battle, it’s all about showcasing God’s love and grace.
Friend, if you are dealing with a tough medical condition, I hope you feel the same way. And if that condition involves cancer, then please, let me share more encouragement with you in my booklet that I’ve written about how to battle cancer with courage. Just go to joniradio.org and ask for Joni’s Cancer Booklet. It’s free for the asking, and it’s all there for you at joniradio.org, where we love sharing hope through every hardship.
© Joni and Friends
Diagnosed with Breast Cancer: Life After Shock
As a survivor herself, Joni Eareckson Tada walks with you through the struggles and questions that arise with the diagnosis of breast cancer. With the wisdom and grace that comes from experience, Joni uses Scripture to point the way to a deeper trust in the God who provides hope in the midst of hardship.